From NBC/NJ's Tricia Miller
Today, the Edwards campaign launched americabelongstous2008.com, where voters can pledge to not support a Democratic presidential candidate who "accepts campaign contributions from Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs." The campaign hopes to sign up 1 million "voices" by Feb. 5, 2008, the day the primary process hits critical mass as more than 20 states hold their primaries.
In a morning conference call with reporters, senior adviser Joe Trippi, deputy campaign manager Jonathan Prince, and communications director Chris Kofinis insisted that the new campaign is intended as an effort to change the system, not just to elect Edwards. "Clearly, anybody who signs the pledge -- the push or what we'll be talking to them about as we get more isn't about John Edwards," Trippi said. "This is about changing the system. Obviously, one of the other things we will do is communicate to them about why John Edwards has been leading that fight."
The campaign used the issue to draw a distinction between Edwards and Clinton, who defends a broken system in Washington, according to the Edwards camp. Asked how the pledge would affect Obama, who has taken lobbyist money in the past but has pledged not to in his presidential campaign, Prince replied, "This isn't a punishment… This is about ending the stranglehold lobbyists and their corporate clients have on our government."
Prince said he didn't think the pledge would have a negative impact on downballot candidates, adding that Edwards ran his Senate campaign in 1998 without lobbyist or PAC contributions. He said that fundraising in 2007 has illustrated "enormous fundraising [opportunities] out there at the grassroots level."
Trippi confirmed that those who sign the pledge would be added to the campaign's mailing list. In addition to the pledge itself, the site currently features an "outrage of the day" linking to stories of influence peddling in the nation's capital.